Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Lights Out for Red Light Cameras

Richardson's red light camera program hit a roadblock in June when a Dallas County district court judge sided with a plaintiff who sued the city over the program (case DC-15-00289 in the 134th District Court).

According to one account, the judge "shut down the city's renegade photo enforcement system over several flagrant violations of state law." According to another interpretation (see William J. McCalpin's comments), "The City's problem is that it relied on the State passing laws that were constitutional, and the judge evidently believes that Texas' statutes ( Chapter 707 of the Texas Transportation Code and provisions contained therein, and Section 29.003(g) of the Texas Government Code ) were not constitutional."

I'm not going to try to settle this difference of legal opinion myself. I'm more interested in another aspect of all this.

This news was linked to multiple times on various Richardson Facebook pages. This time, as almost invariably in the past when right light camera programs are discussed on social media, comments were largely opposed to them. Some commenters want to end the programs. Some want to know how to beat the rap. A common perception is that red light camera programs are money-making rackets by cities. Here's my problem with the critics: Their concern is for the red light runners. Few of them seem to be concerned for the victims of red light runners.

In truth, while many studies show that red light camera programs reduce crashes, in total the studies are mixed. The CDC concluded "It is premature to conclude that red-light cameras have been widely found to be highly effective."

So, the red light camera programs are hard to prove effective. They are widely unpopular with the public. Lawmakers limit them and voters try to kill them every chance they get. Laws that are widely disrespected will never by highly effective. So, it's probably time to reluctantly pull the plug on the cameras. Personally, I'm reconciled to that. What I'll never be reconciled to is people who want to run red lights. And other people who care more about the red light runners than in figuring out ways to stop them.

1 comment:

Mark Steger said...

On July 19, 2016, the City of Richardson suspended its red light program until the district court judge provides clarification of his ruling.